The Trends I'm Leaving in 2021 — and What I'm Wearing Instead
The close of the year always feels like an invitation to take stock of my life, and the first thing I typically start with is my closet. There's a reason I feel more at peace when my clothes are sorted: styles I haven't worn in months put in a donation pile, shirts I reach for daily hung at the front, go-to shoes and bags securely placed within eyesight. The pandemic has no doubt disrupted the way we dress, putting forth a sense of comfort that feels like a nonnegotiable, yet it has also inspired a host of new designs, color combinations, and prints.
While I can appreciate a cool trend (fluffy bags are my latest obsession), I don't define my style around what comes and goes. Instead, I see fashion as an attitude, in my case, one that prioritizes comfort, yet still seeks excitement in the little details — whether that's a dress drenched in a rich shade of green, a satin blouse with an elegant gold chain detail, an unexpected cutout, an asymmetric neckline, dramatic sleeves . . . you name it.
Going into 2022, I'm editing my most worn pieces based on their day-to-night versatility, durability, and material quality. Sure, some will happen to be buzzworthy items, but I'm now clear on the styles that will stay and those that will go. Sweatsuits, for one, will be replaced by more polished, wear-everywhere knit sets. And wearable separates will take precedence over impractical, one-time pieces. Read on for the key themes that will dictate my fashion choices this year, and the trends I'm leaving behind.
What I'm Tossing: Y2K-Inspired Tops
This year has seen the revival of low-rise jeans, kitschy motifs, and retro tops. You can attribute the return of Y2K fashion to the nostalgic look back at simpler times although designers have always looked to the past to inform contemporary silhouettes. You either love or hate the Y2K trend, and while I'm somewhere in the middle, I admit that the designs aren't always practical or suitable for multiple occasions. This halter top sure makes a great summer concert look, but it isn't as practical for winter-ready wear. So I'll likely turn the page on that era's aesthetic in favor of classic styles that will stand the test of time.
What I’m Loving: Timeless Separates
Whether it's a timeless scoop neck sweater, a tailored blazer, or a textured leather skirt you'll turn to season after season, the pieces that currently speak to me are the ones that can be mixed and matched into an endless combination of looks. This season, designers have mastered the art of practical separates — from printed pants to flattering corsets — providing a well of inspiration for putting together polished and easygoing outfits for work and beyond.
What I’m Tossing: Sweat Suits
Having spent the better half of this year lounging in loose sweatsuits, I'm ready to elevate my everyday look, while still retaining that sense of comfort. 2021 was the year where everything goes, as we spent much of our time at home. While it's totally acceptable to pair a sweatsuit or a Juicy Couture tracksuit with a bomber jacket or a long coat to go on a run, I miss the sense of "put-togetherness" a slightly more polished set can provide.
What I’m Loving: Rib-Knit Sets
Such a thing does exist, and the key is in the fabric choice. Refined rib-knit sets feel like a more intentional alternative to sweat suits, and they pack all the comfort and warmth. Whether you're headed to the office, staying in for a candlelit dinner with your partner, or having a sleepover with friends, matching sets make the perfect wear-everywhere ensembles.
What I'm Tossing: Simple Outerwear
Don't get me wrong, a neutral or simple jacket will still do its job (and will never go out of style). But as we emerge from the pandemic, I want my clothing to speak to the sense of optimism I am so badly trying to cultivate. Sure, muted palettes are a cold-weather classic, but I'm not afraid to rewrite the fashion rules by going for bolder, more expressive outfits.
What I’m Loving: Statement Outerwear
Whether it's a textured shearling-trimmed coat, a lilac leather shirt jacket or a brightly printed jacket, I'm opting for outerwear that both meets their function as protective winter gear, but also dials up the style factor. Designers weren't afraid to embrace color on the spring 2022 runway, and I saw it as an invitation to be bold. After all, your jacket may be the only thing people see during the winter, so make sure it leaves a memorable impression.
What I’m Tossing: Maxi Dresses
Although I can appreciate the freedom embedded in a maxi dress, and designers like Chloé have endorsed the style during Paris Fashion Week, I've found that same sense of easy elegance in other types of dresses. Mini dresses have made a colorful and festive return in recent months, and I find myself gravitating towards them as they are equally versatile, plus the length presents a special challenge I enjoy solving for year-round wear.
What I’m Loving: Mini Dresses
There's just something so lighthearted and inviting about a mini dress (Laquan Smith's crystal-encrusted number from the spring 2022 collection immediately comes to mind), you'd be forgiven to think it's only appropriate for party wear; but paired with a blazer and mid-calf or tall heeled boots, a mini dress will make for a comfortable and stylish winter look.
What I’m Tossing: Traditional Workwear
Forget stiff pencil skirts and button-down shirts. If the pandemic has shown us anything, it's that you can get work done from anywhere and in literally anything. (Hello, pajamas.) We've seen revised takes on workwear, prioritizing a sense of ease above all. Now, you'd be forgiven to think that relaxed silhouettes are unprofessional. Turns out, there isn't a shortage of new office-ready silhouettes to inspire your fashionable comeback.
What I'm Loving: Relaxed Suiting
Slouchy trousers and reworked shirts can achieve a sense of professionalism balanced with comfort. I will happily include them in my updated work uniform — call it unconventional suiting — as they can transition from the office to afterwork drinks easily. Paired with a trench coat or a relaxed blazer, plus your go-to pair of sneakers or loafers, you're ready for casual Friday and everything else after.
What I’m Tossing: Fanny Packs
Fanny packs are practical and keep you hands-free, but there's something about the belted silhouette that never sat right with me. I'm leaving this style behind in favor of reusable totes and statement shoulder bags.
What I’m Loving: Embellishing Shoulder Bags
I can't get enough of a metallic chain embellishing an otherwise regular shoulder bag. Bonus if it also has texture like this orange quilted style. One thing we can thank Daniel Lee for is the slew of expertly designed bags he created during his short tenure at Bottega Veneta. His intricate play on leather has gone on to inspire tens of thousands of iterations, pushing bag retailers to include the magical details that definitely set shoulder bags apart from the rest.
What I’m Tossing: Plain Sweaters
This wardrobe mainstay has reigned for years, but in the near future, I'm going for rich texture, eye-catching patterns, and mood-boosting layering options. It's not that there's anything wrong with this simple style. I just feel ready to evolve the traditional silhouette and create an element of surprise with more maximalist styles.
What I’m Loving: Rich Textures and Playful Prints
Gone are the days of boring sweaters. This season is all about showing personality, and crochet cardigans, colorblock or abstract art sweaters, and unexpected silhouettes will help me achieve just that. I'm embracing my maximalist tendencies to curate really unique tops that speak to the collective longing for a colorful and warm future.